Climate Joy Week #12: Electric Aircrafts Take Off, London’s Car-Free Day and More…

Climate Joy Week #12: Electric Aircrafts Take Off, London’s Car-Free Day and More…

Welcome to another week’s edition of our Climate Joy Series. There has been a steady increase in global awareness of the climate crisis these past few months and today, we come bearing a collection of joyful climate outcomes from unlikely corners of the world.

Without further ado then, let’s jump right into it:

1. Ireland Ramps Up Efforts Against Carbon Emissions

Last week, the Irish government announced a series of plans aimed at revolutionising the transport industry and reducing carbon emissions over the next decade.

According to the plan, excise duty on diesel is to be hiked, while all fossil fuels will be repeatedly slapped with increases in carbon taxes while the government simultaneously investing in public transport and cycling infrastructure. In addition, the Government’s Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC) will call for carbon tax to be increased to at least €35 per tonne in the next budget.

Where people still insist on driving cars, the Irish government intends to make electric cars the most viable option. At present, 36 percent of vehicles on Irish roads use petrol while 62 percent operate on diesel – but the sale of new diesel or petrol cars is to be banned in 2030 and will be completely outlawed by 2045.

The aim of the policy, according to Transport Minister Shane Ross, is “to get people out of private cars because they are the biggest offenders for emissions”. This is encouraging news indeed.

2. London Announces a Car-Free Day to Tackle Pollution

London Mayor, Sadiq Khan has announced that the city will be closing its roads for a car-free day this year, marked for September 22. In an attempt to tackle London’s air pollution, the city will include close over 20 kilometres of roads (12.3 miles), including roads around London Bridge, Tower Bridge and much of the City of London. 

London has high levels of air pollution, killing thousands of people each year and exposes two million people – including 400,000 children – to dirty air.

Speaking on the development, Fiona Sutherland from London Play, a charity that campaigns for more opportunities for children to play in the city, said: “[This] will give people the opportunity to witness a transformation on their doorstep. When cars no longer dominate, what we often forget is valuable public space. For a few hours, children, whose lives are most negatively affected by traffic, will take priority. We hope that it will be the beginning of long-term change.”

This is the first time that large sections of roads in London have been closed for the environment. Go London!

3. Pink Floyd Member David Gilmour Donates Sales to Climate Action

Pink Floyd member and legendary guitarist, David Gilmour last week auctioned off his collection of guitars and will be donating the proceeds to the environmental law charity ClientEarth to help fight climate change. This collection of 121 guitars features some of the guitars used in recording the legendary albums “The Dark Side of the Moon,” “Wish You Were Here” and “The Wall,” to mention but a few. The auction lasted for over eight hours and brought in the sum of $21.5 million.

Charitable donations to climate organisations seems to be on the rise. This news comes on the back of Michael Bloomberg’s offer of a $500 million donation towards fighting carbon emissions.

4. All-Electric Airplanes at the Paris Air Show

Last week, the aviation industry held the industry’s biggest aerospace show in Paris and one of the show’s feature attractions were electric airplanes, all in different stages of development. The biggest was an electric aircraft called Alice presented by Eviation, an Israeli business startup. With a price tag of $4 million, the aircraft can fly 650 miles (1,046 km) at around 500 miles per hour (805 km/h) with three electric motors on the tail and one on each wingtip. 

The electric airplane stole the show when American regional airline Cape Air placed orders for Alice. While electric airplanes cannot operate over long distances yet, they are perfect for short runs and represent the future of the aviation industry.

Meanwhile hybrid planes (aircrafts that use electricity for part of their journeys) are currently taking off (pun intended). Zunum Aero, an aircraft manufacturer startup based in Kirkland, Washington and backed by Boeing and JetBlue is expected to launch a hybrid airplane later this year.

United Technologies-Raytheon and Airbus are also in the race, both due to release hybrid aircrafts as early as 2022.

The aviation industry alone contributes about two to three percent of global emissions and there are opportunities to make travel more sustainable. Investment bank UBS reports 22 precent of people it surveyed in the US and Germany were already cutting back on air travel for environmental reasons. This is highly commendable, particularly as it is seen as a status symbol.

Anyway, that’s a wrap for this week’s edition. Twelve weeks in and we’re still going on strong. We’ll catch you next week and in the meantime, make sure to spread the positive climate news by sharing this post!

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Feature image of all-electric airplane ‘Alice’ via Eviation.

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